22 December 2007

"The Doctrine of Bethlehem" - part 4

Part 4 continues where Part 3 left off and runs through the end of Chapter II of The Presence: An Approach to the Holy Communion:

The only thing which can satisfy man’s heart is to love God so completely that man becomes the channel of the divine love to his fellowmen. The only love which will affect our fellow men is the supernatural love. All other love is tainted with self-interest, and this is the reason why we often fail—because we do not love enough with the divine love. If we could only love with the divine love, then our duties to God and to our fellowmen would become an expression of our divine love. This is the one thing we must ever seek in Bethlehem—that Bethlehem begets in us that divine love—a selfless, supernatural love, which is the Bethlehem love, a love which alone can ease the heartache of the world.

When we fail in our relationships with our fellowmen, either at home or in business, it is because our love is tainted with self-interest. But it is only the divine love which can make us irresistible.

And this love can save society. The world is always tense with wars, revolutions, global planning. If it is not one thing it is another. Labor is tense, capital is tense—dissatisfaction. The result is more revolution. Why does man revolt? He revolts because he is dissatisfied. That much he knows. The laboring man knows, perhaps only subconsciously, that he has not been created to be a machine, a cog in the wheel of selfish, materialistic civilization, and he rebels against such an order of things. Still he may not know the true reason for his dissatisfaction, which is that man has been made for union with God, and nothing else can satisfy him but that. An eight hour day, minimum wage scales, proper housing conditions, are not the answer. Bethlehem is the answer to the labor problem, for Bethlehem means union with God. And why is the employer, the rich man, so often unhappy? You say that he has everything—no financial worries, every luxury, beautiful homes, shiny cars, money in the bank, security; but he is unhappy still—discontented. Why? Within yourself you think; if I had his money I would never complain again! Oh yes, you would. This man is unhappy despite his money and luxuries because deep down in his soul he knows that he has not been made for money. He has not been made for riches. For after he has accumulated his fortune, he finds himself still dissatisfied. Why? Because he has been made for God.

The only solution, then, for the agony of the industrial world, whether we be in the ranks of labor or capital, is Bethlehem; that divine fact that God came down to earth to lift man up to Himself. Any philosophy, any social order which ignores it, is bound to lead to hell. There are two conflicting forces in life: Good and evil; love and self; God and the devil; Heaven and hell. And if you find the Bethlehem evangel in your life, then Love and Heaven are yours. If not, you will read hell. The reason we have hell in our national, political, social and domestic life so often is that men have lost the way to Bethlehem. The reason we church-members are so impotent is that we too often lose sight of the way and, therefore, cannot direct others back to Bethlehem (pp. 47-48).

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